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Compare the difference in gender roles and socialization processes in relation to the Smith family

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The purpose of this assignment is to compare the difference in gender roles and socialization processes in relation to the Smith family. It will give a brief explanation of gender roles and socialization and will take into account the situation of Jane and David and it will also look at the thoughts of Jane’s eighteen-year-old daughter Katherine. Gender roles are said to originate from birth with the classification of sex.

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As in all systems of ascription, even though most people believe that sex role behaviour flows naturally, from biological or inborn differences, societies do not leave that development to choice or possibility.

Instead, from the earliest years, before they can understand a word, infants are told what their sexual identity is, and are praised for any behavioural evidence of appropriate activity. Adults will describe an infant as having ideal female traits, if told it’s a girl (sweet, cute, charming) and as having ideal male traits if told it’s a boy (strong, destructive, rebellious). What begins in infancy continues through the years. For generations girls have been praised for their maternal behaviour with dolls, and boys were told they were sissies if they showed the same behaviour.

The family, second edition, page 75). According to Connell in introduction to sociology Talcott Parsons argues that the biological facts of sex and reproduction limit the sex gender roles available to males and females. In other words females social roles are mainly to produce and bring up children while males are to provide the main resources of survival. Connell disagrees and believes that sexuality as well as gender is formed by social influences and personal choice. (Introduction to sociology, page 187).

Ann Oakley argues that gender roles are cultural rather than biological; humans learn the behaviour that is expected of males and females within their society. (Sociology themes and perspectives page 589) Gender behaviour is first learnt through primary or basic socialization within the family and is reinforced later in almost every area of social life for example, at school and at work. Socialization refers to the various ways in which a child learns to act in a way acceptable to a given society.

Oakley argues that as a young baby grows, they are socialized into their different gender roles through their contact with different people and institutions. By the age of sixteen the majority of young men and women have been socialized into a belief of male dominance, even though the forces of disagreement to this attitude are stronger than they were and patterns of socialization based on gender equality occur more frequently. (Introduction to sociology page 184-194) Socialization is the process by which human behaviour is formed through experiences in social situations.

Through socialization the individual learns the values, norms and thinking of a given society. Cooley (1864-1929) distinguished two types of socialization: primary and secondary. The two forms of socialization are defined partly in terms of the particular groups or agencies in which they take place. Primary groups are small they entail face-to-face relationship and allow the individual to express the whole self; the family, peer groups and close friends are all primary groups. Within these groups the individual learns, by personal experiences the primary values such as love, loyalty, justice, and sharing.

Freud emphasised that the first few years of a person life, those commonly spent among primary groups are the most significant in forming the structure of his or her behaviour. Secondary groups are large, more important, more properly structured, and exist for particular purposes. Secondary socialization involves learning how to organise and conduct oneself in formal contexts and how to behave towards people who have different degrees of position or authority. (Introduction to sociology page 3)

Thompson, N (2001) states that the pressure to match to sex-appropriate roles within the patriarchal family is both a major part of the socialisation process and a significant aspect of sexism. Patriarchal beliefs promote the traditional model of the family, with the male breadwinner being the main provider, head of the household and defender of his territory, the wife and mother as nurturer and carer and their dependent children whom they socialise into following in the footsteps of the appropriate role model, boys like daddy and girls like mummy.

Anti discriminatory practice page 42) Jane feels that she is responsible for looking after her father. Pilcher (1995) cites Finch’s evidence that women provide the great majority of personal care to relatives and that the parent to child relationship is the most important source of support after the spouse relationship. Children, mainly daughters, are a major source of support for elderly parents. (Age and Generation in Modern Britain page123).

These feelings Jane is experiencing are possibly due to the behaviour she learned through her own socialisation within her family, For example, Jane believes that her mother would have expected her to look after her father, therefore she would live up to her mothers expectations if she takes on the responsibility of carer to her father and secondly, her experience of growing up as a female was that women were responsible for household and domestic tasks.

Ann Oakley believes that males and females are exposed to different activities through out childhood for example; girls are mainly encouraged to become involved in domestic tasks. (Sociology themes and perspectives page 590) This would explain Jane’s behaviour in her own house as she does most of the household chores, even though Jane and her husband equally work full time. David thinks that his father should go and live with him and his partner, he hasn’t asked his partner yet how she feels about this.

David may feel through his own socialization that it is his duty as the son in the family to take control of the situation. David is hoping that his wife will be willing to give up her part time job to look after his father, “Women in this society are generally the hands-on caregivers, (typically the eldest daughter or daughter-in-law) (AARP Magazine) David hasn’t mentioned giving up his job, this could be Patriarchal gender through socialisation, David thinking he is the man of the house and the main bread winner and has authority over his wife’s say.

His wife works part time and she is probably on low pay, to David her job may not be important as it is a second wage, maybe financially it would be better for her to give up her job, but he isn’t thinking how his wife would feel about doing this. (Anti discriminatory practice page 42-43). Jane’s eighteen-year-old daughter Katherine has concerns about her mother. This could be down to changes and different expectation through generations.

The fact that, Katherine is in higher education suggest that her prospects and opportunities are higher than that of her mothers. Women are beginning to change their attitudes in the direction of greater approval of more equal gender behaviour, and as a result a more equal sharing of housework. In addition, as a clear indication of the future, younger women, women with more education and wife’s with better educated husbands were more likely to move towards independent gender attitudes.

The family 133-135) In conclusion, the guilt Jane is experiencing and David’s thoughts in deciding how to care for his farther is common and is a product of societies expectations. David and Jane haven’t really giving any thought to the situation or consequences of their father. They are both acting on what they think would be expected of them by their mother and through their socialisation, that is to look after their father.

Neither of them has taking the thoughts of their father into consideration, although Michael is getting very forgetful, he still has right to choice, maybe Michael wont want to live with them or wont want them to look after him, Michael if possible, might want to stay in his own home. Jane and David cant and shouldn’t really try to make any decisions without firstly getting an assessment done on their father, this should happen once they get in contact with the social worker, and secondly they should also both speak to their family to find out how they feel about the situation, after all what decisions are made involves them as well.

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